Effects of the Level and Duration of Mobilization Therapy in the Surgical ICU on the Loss of the Ability to Live Independently: An International Prospective Cohort Study

Crit Care Med. 2021 Mar 1;49(3):e247-e257. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000004808.


Objectives: It is unclear whether early mobilization in the surgical ICU helps improve patients' functional recovery to a level that enables independent living. We assessed dose of mobilization (level + duration). We tested the research hypotheses that dose of mobilization predicts adverse discharge and that both duration of mobilization and maximum mobilization level predict adverse discharge.

Design: International, prospective cohort study.

Setting: Study conducted in five surgical ICUs at four different institutions.

Patients: One hundred fifty patients who were functionally independent before admission (Barthel Index ≥ 70) and who were expected to stay in the ICU for greater than or equal to 72 hours.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Mobilization was quantified daily, and treatments from all healthcare providers were included. We developed and used the Mobilization Quantification Score that quantifies both level and duration of mobilization. We assessed the association between the dose of mobilization (level + duration; exposure) and adverse discharge disposition (loss of the ability to live independently; primary outcome). There was wide variability in the dose of mobilization across centers and patients, which could not be explained by patients' comorbidity or disease severity. Dose of mobilization was associated with reduced risk of adverse discharge (adjusted odds ratio, 0.21; 95%CI, 0.09-0.50; p < 0.001). Both level and duration explained variance of adverse discharge (adjusted odds ratio, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.65; p = 0.003; adjusted odds ratio, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.06-0.36; p < 0.001, respectively). Duration compared with the level of mobilization tended to explain more variance in adverse discharge (area under the curve duration 0.73; 95% CI, 0.64-0.82; area under the curve mobilization level 0.68; 95% CI, 0.58-0.77; p = 0.10).

Conclusions: We observed wide variability in dose of mobilization treatment applied, which could not be explained by patients' comorbidity or disease severity. High dose of mobilization is an independent predictor of patients' ability to live independently after discharge. Duration of mobilization sessions should be taken into account in future quality improvement and research projects.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03196960.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Critical Illness / rehabilitation*
  • Early Ambulation / methods*
  • Female
  • Functional Status*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03196960